By now, practically everyone knows there is a market for used Levi’s. It’s hard to miss the vendors set up on street corners and vacant lots during the summer willing to pay cash for your old jeans.
But did you know Levi Strauss and Co. is willing to pay really big money for old Levi’s denim jackets? One family was recently paid $1,000, plus an all-expenses-paid trip to San Francisco to tour the Levi’s factory after they found an old jacket in their family-owned general store. The jacket is said to date back to 1910.
So what should you look for if you think you have an old Levi jacket stored in the attic or stuffed in a trunk?
Over time, minor modifications to the jacket’s design have contributed to the evolution of today’s jacket. The easiest way to determine the age of a Levi’s denim jacket is to identify its styling details and find a match within the following timeline:
The first jackets were produced around 1873. Because of the 1906 earthquake and fire in San Francisco, no company records of these jackets are available.
Pleated fronts, one chest pocket, back cinch belt and Levi Strauss & Co. brass buttons identify jackets made between 1905 and 1935.
In 1936, the trademark LEVI Red Tab, featuring an upper-case letter “E” was added. On newer jackets, the “e” is lower-cased, and the value isn’t as great.
In 1942, the main design change was the removal of the chest pocket flap. Buttons with the leaf design replaced the Levi Strauss & Co. buttons.
A return to the buttons with the company name came in 1947. Another identifier on jackets made between 1947 and 1952 is again the capital “E” Red Tab and the back cinch.
Two chest pockets were introduced in 1953, as were side adjuster buttons on the waistband.
The V-seam construction replacing the pleated front, two chest pockets, and pointed pocket flaps are indicators that the jacket was made sometime between 1962 and 1971.
Since 1972 the jackets have changed in very subtle ways. The main difference is in the font style on the Red Tab Device. It was at this point that the company switched the lettering on the tag from a capital “E” to a lower-case “e.” So start digging. You never know what that dirty old jacket left out in the barn might be worth.
To read excerpts from letters sent to the company detailing the jackets some families have found, access Levi’s World Wide Web site at http://www.levi.com.
MEMO: Shanna Southern Peterson is a Spokane writer and home economist. The Clothesline appears weekly. Ideas for the column may be sent to her c/o The Spokesman-Review Features Department, P.O. Box 2160, Spokane, WA 99210, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.